Dark Summer (2015)

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“A 17-year-old is on house arrest for the summer while his mother is away on business. A horrifying incident occurs leaving an ominous presence in the house.” — IMDb

Keir Gilchrist, who I typically love (he was great in It Follows and United States of Tara, where I was first introduced to him), plays Daniel in this supernatural horror/thriller, a bit of a hacker who is under house arrest for cyberstalking his classmate and love interest, Mona (played by Grace Phipps). Things start to get spooky after he watches her commit suicide and his friends Abby (Stella Maeve) and Kevin (Maestro Harrell) are worried about his safety — and his sanity — as he spirals into a pretty dangerous mental state and fears for his own life.

Honestly… meh. This movie didn’t offer much. It occasionally had some interesting atmosphere but ultimately it was just boring. I thought the premise — Daniel being stuck in his home while one might normally run the hell away — was interesting initially, but the scares were just too cheesy and predictable to really have any serious effect.

I may have audibly yawned when it’s revealed early on that his friend Abby has this unrequited love for him. It winds up being crucial to the storyline in the surprise ending, but it was just predictable. His either complete obliviousness to the painfully obvious or inability to voice his emotions just fits right into the whole stereotype of the teenager who is textbook smart (able to hack into computers, etc) but emotionally stunted.

I thought the dream that Daniel had of him and Abby in the pool was cool, and sort of fit into the atmosphere that I WISH this movie had. It was like a weird offspring of hazy, dreamlike indie movie and cheap teen thriller. There were a couple good, creepy moments — his phone going blank and playing “When” by Elysian Fields, for example — but largely the scares fell flat, especially any time they showed Mona. I would have much rather she be kept more vague and shadowy, or not physically appearing at all.

But then suddenly we descend inexplicably into the world of witchcraft and spells and while there’s a decent surprise ending, it was too far gone for me at that point. Even Peter Stormare couldn’t save this one with his painfully stereotypical parole officer role. Booo.

Rating: 2/10 | Director: Paul Solet | Writer: Mike Le | Music: Austin Wintory | Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Stella Maeve, Maestro Harrell, Grace Phipps, Peter Stormare

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